Scenes of City Life - 都市风光
A heavily didactic 1935 Shanghai movie which plays as a tragic comedy. A poor guy loves a girl but there's another man after her, and her father is also in the way. It starts out like Charlie Chaplin, but it goes on to show the basic moral failures of the Westernized capitalistic city. While it has its problems (one of the biggest being that it has two huge framing devices right at the beginning - it takes a few minutes before it really gets going) I consider this movie on par with "The Goddess", and one of the best mainland Chinese movies ever.
It's my first time subtitling a Chinese movie, I'd appreciate any feedback.
This work is dedicated to the
Yuan Muzhi - Director
Subject: City life beckoning
Will Shanghai be as lustrous and exciting as the illusion of it glimpsed in the opticon at the beginning of this film?
One can ask loads of questions about this imaginative and fascinating film.
I liked the New Year's party scene where a record of Sam Lanin's "Whistling In The Dark" spins out of control somewhere in the background.
For those wondering how to get the English subtitles mentioned above-- go to the url and download the .srt file (store it in the same folder as your movie file.)
When you play the film, you may have to explore the menus of your video player to turn the subtitles on.
Thank you for the subtitles, they are really helpful!
(Interesting comments, Jeff Rutsch! Especially about Jiang Ching, one of whose official crimes in the Gang of Four trials was her secretive admiration for Gone With The Wind.)
Subject: Any Chinese (mandarin) subtitles?
Can anyone upload them onto this website? Would be very helpful!
Subject: questions regarding song between minute 3:00 and minute 4:00
The thing that I am most curious about, however, does not appear in your translation. The missing part of your translation is the section from approximately 2:45 to 4:00 minutes in the film: words being sung (and also - mysteriously - the words sung but "covered over" by humming) by the operator of a peep show.
I believe that the singer is the film director, Yuan Muzhi, himself. Is this unusual for the period... for a film director in 1930s China to appear in his own film?
More questions about this particular interlude: Is the song made that much more significant by being performed by the director at this introductory "framing" part of the film?
Since the song is part of a "peep show" spectacle for travellers, are the lyrics culturally transgressive for the time (as peep shows might presumably be)?
Was Yuan Muzhi interested in a political reading of his film and would there be, therefore, a political subtext for the song he performs? Would this political subtext (if there is one) be placed in a song in order to slip past the censors?
One final question... In the few Chinese films of the period that I have seen (e.g., Street Angel), any song performed within a narrative film is accompanied by Chinese subtitles in a "sing-along" style. However, "Scenes of City Life" is an exception. Yuan Muzhi's song is performed without the singalong subtitles. Why?
Subject: More about subtitles
Personally I don't think this movie was part of a larger Communist scheme. I think it was merely a satire of a Capitalist society, by a writer/director sympathetic both to traditional Chinese mores and leftist causes. I wrote a little more on my blog at http://slumsofshaolin.blogspot.com/2007/04/scenes-of-city-life-shanghai-in-movies.html
By the way, I didn't mention that the business woman is a 21 year old Jiang Qing, who went on to infamy as Mao Zedong's 4th wife, and leader of the supposed "Gang of Four."
Subject: Scenes of City Life
Where are the subtitles? Don't tell me to go to
that other place where I can download the translation. It doesn't help to be reading paper and listening to a film. Could you do this please? If not for me than for my friend in Shanghai.
Subject: Prophetic film?
Subject: Scenes- good film could be better
Subject: Worth Subtitling for the Learning
Next I went to http://www.afterdawn.com/guides/archive/adding_subs_to_avi.cfm .
This short how to article (with pictures) will give you the names of two freeware programs and a subtitle plug in that can be used to render this movie with the subtitle .srt file. After messing up a couple of times I finally found my way and the two files combined. As usual the enjoyment came not only from the watching but the doing as well.
The movie is quite good as a satire on life in a capitalist economy and worthy of four stars but getting to watch it with the subtitles is a five star event. Thanks Jeff
Uploaded by Jeff Rutsch on